History of Art



In this course we will think about the representation of the body in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century visual culture in London collections. From the presentation of the royal image conceived by Peter Paul Rubens for the architectural spaces of the Banqueting House at Whitehall, to the use of the body as a devotional aid in religious subject paintings by Caravaggio, we will consider how ceremony and ritual shapes our understanding of the human body and the experience of viewers in the early modern period.

The course will consider different areas of cultural production that had an impact upon ways of imagining and presenting the body in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: painting and patronage, collecting, printmaking, and architectural spaces. In addition to those mentioned, we will have the opportunity to study works by a range of artists such as Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Peter Lely and William Hogarth, as well as unknown printmakers and artisans. By looking at these areas we will explore themes such as ceremony and performance, the production and dissemination of natural knowledge and the 'scientific revolution', the power of objects and materials, and society and identity.

The classes will take place in a selection of London museums, galleries and buildings, such as the National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Wellcome Collection and the British Museum.